Archive for March, 2017
I have been absent for a while from blogging. It is because I’m away – on a spring break, sort of speak – visiting my maternal grandma. It is a charming village bonded together by 29 hamlets founded upon the various bloodlines that co-exist in this corner of Bangladesh. It is my first visit in almost a decade and I don’t know why I have put it off for so long.
The weather is super fine. Winter was not very harsh this year and I believe we are experiencing the mildest spring of this century so far. The scents of life throbbing from every bush and shrub flutters through the air wherever we tread and it is made even more pleasant by the fragrance of food cooked on primitive earthen stoves fired by dry jute stems. To say the daily walks through the village and the surrounding paddy fields and woods have been reviving is not saying enough. I may have found something akin to elixir.
I used to love visiting my grandma’s as a child. Having been brought up overseas, the simplicity of village life was a novelty whenever we came back to Bangladesh. People would welcome me and my brother as though we truly were a little princess and prince. Yet, we stopped visiting this cocooned world with its near primitive lifestyle because somewhere along the way we grew up and became too worldly. We accepted that we must move at the speed of globalization and cannot be charmed into living ensconced from progress. Yet, my grandma and her neighboring relatives and friends have chosen to stay.
They have their difficulties but we all have difficulties, don’t we? They have chosen this set of challenges and we have chosen our set. And when we greet each other in the avenues their smiles are so genuine it is as though they have each swallowed a star. They must be content, they must be happy, no?
I’m not without all modern facilities. The Internet, for example, is very much available to me. But I’m enjoying village charms too much to attend to my blogging obligations for the moment. There will be time enough for technologies when I return to the flurried self-absorption common in cities. This week, however, I must drink in nature and satisfy my thirst for the bonhomie of my fellow mankind.
While I can.
Andy clipped her client on the chin, forcing him to throw his head back with the blow. Next, she got down on her haunches and threw one leg out, swiveling it to push her client’s legs out from beneath him. All six-feet-three-inches and two hundred pounds of him came crashing down with an outraged gasp on the boxing ring bed, making her jump up to regain her footing as the structure quivered all around them. Grinning down at Bob around her mouthguard, she prepared herself to face his rebuke. However, he seemed less than inclined to satisfy her irritable mood today.
Bob groaned into a sitting position and rested his elbows on his upraised knees. Spitting out his mouthguard into a gloved fist, he leveled his resigned moss-green eyes up at her. “That must’ve been some meeting you had with your old man yesterday,” was all he commented.
Andy spat out her own mouthguard, disgusted by his consoling tone. She was itching for a thrash-out and he was refusing to take the bait. What must a gal do around here to get an able and willing male opponent in the ring? “Meetings with my dad are nothing if not out of the ordinary. You should know that by now.”
Bob grunted non-committally. He pushed himself off the bed with the sheer strength of his legs alone, his calf muscles bunching and releasing with the effort. Andy tried not to gulp audibly. Her pelvic floor muscles, however, she thought she heard squeak with yearning. Not that she would respond to such yearnings; Bob was her client, after all. Read the rest of this entry »
Well, doesn’t that just hit the spot! Even the smallest of compliments has me blushing like a hen laying an egg so you can imagine what a tizzy I’m in right now. For the longest part of my life, I suffered an inability to accept compliments without recycling numerous questions in my head to its verity and reason. Fortunately, those days are somewhat behind me now.
These days, I appreciate any form of feedback – from compliments to constructive criticism – on my writing but I really must thank Ally L. Mare of Write Ally! Write! for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award. Being acknowledged for your work feels like a shot of espresso – except it’s a shot of motivation – and I hope I will only improve my storytelling skills with time.
This opportunity has also prompted me to reflect on the importance of appreciating the Works of Others that are not only available via mass media but also those within my own blogosphere. Sure, we ‘Like’ and comment and sometimes reblog, but greater recognition for an overall job well done is also necessary.
Now, in abiding with The Rules of the Award, I dedicate this week’s installation of WEDNESDAY REFLECTIONS to some of my fellow bloggers: Read the rest of this entry »
“Hi, Dad.” Andy stared into a pair of eyes identical to hers in more ways than just the shade of larkspur and hooded lids. They matched her discomfort too. “Can I come in?”
He shrugged and walked away from the open door to his condo. Andy walked into his Florida home for the first time, closing the door behind her as she tried to rein in her curiosity. Driving up to the complex, walking through the grounds and lobby, riding up the designer scented elevator, she had been amazed by the glamor and upkeep of the property. The inside of her father’s apartment, however, suited more with his lifelong philosophy.
There was something called minimalism and then there was how Allen Tybalt lived.
Growing up with an austere man such as Allen had been challenging every step of the way. His job had their family moving a lot. Even though he was always away for on-site projects, Andy and her mother had to keep accompanying him to new cities every couple of years because Allen insisted that they live as a unit.
Allen had been a power plant engineer, the best in his field apparently. He earned a sack full of salary every month but never allowed Andy’s mother to decorate their myriad of residence as she wanted. Whenever her mother proposed the idea to buy something for their home, Allen would insist the venture unnecessary since they would have to move again anyway. That a family subjected to as many location transfers as theirs be unencumbered by possessions was perfectly logical so her mother never argued. Besides, few people won an argument with Allen.
It was just as well because Andy’s mother died in a road accident when Andy was just twelve years old so she doubted her mother would have gotten much time to enjoy a fully decorated home.
“You have a nice setup here, Dad,” Andy now said, looking around. “Suits you.” Actually, upon closer look, the furniture did appear to be very vogue even if sparse. “I’m not sure how easy it will be to pack the Zeng Fanzhi painting if you decide to move,” she added, staring at the article in question hanging over the long blue crushed velvet couch.
“I hide the money behind that. Besides, I won’t be needing it where I’m going next,” Allen grumbled. Read the rest of this entry »
Via: Daily Prompt – Label
Are writer’s quick to judge? If writers habitually sit around in public places, siphoning characters out of their neighbors, are their inspirations founded on preconceptions programmed into their outlook of society? I mean, sure, they add onto what they see but would it be correct to say that their imagination is still founded on stereotypes that they are prepossessed to notice?
When I left my career to pursue writing fictions, I knew the day will come when I start freelancing. After all, unless you become an instant best-selling author, you must find some other means to pay the bills. And regardless of how sternly you saved your income to one day pursue your lifelong dream of becoming a novelist, the fund will deplete sooner or later if you do not keep replenishing it.
As news got out that I had truly left my last workplace for self-employment, I was approached by more than a handful organizations to take over their marketing departments. I took to thanking them and the Almighty for the appreciation and vote of confidence but, of course, declined. It is difficult for people to fathom that given the workaholic I demonstrated myself to be for over a decade, I could trade in the euphoria of corporate stress for the more relaxed self-paced lifestyle of a struggling novelist. If you noticed the irony in that statement or are pursuing to become published, you would understand that writing a novel is no idle profession.
After volleying offers for six months, people are finally coming around to accepting that I’m not looking to peddle myself as a corporate monkey. So now the work offers have started to arrive in the form of developing contents for brochures, websites and the like on the basis of independent contracts. Very good. It sounds much more maintainable. I will not be obligated to maintain any fixed hours and can accept or reject work as per time suitable to my novel writing needs. In fact, I feel writing other materials will be a good way to de-stress from constantly working on my book. Novel writing as a career with freelance writing as a hobby sounds the right deal.
But now the problem is I have to state my price. I have to figure out what my talent is worth on the basis of the value I add to my clients’ projects. I have never been very good at asking for money. Sure, in the corporate arena, I know the structure in each industry for each position, so salary negotiation is a fair affair between each party. But I now realize that pricing strategy for a freelancer is a totally different ballgame. When discussing the work that needs to be done, I feel the excitement but the moment the topic of discussing the price of my work, I lose my place in the discussion.It is just so embarrassing. Especially, because the queries I have been receiving are mostly from people I have built a close bond with during my career. And frankly, I think most creative people seek appreciation more than money. Hell, I have done plenty of complimentary work in my life just because someone appreciated my talent.
It is just so embarrassing. Especially, because the queries I have been receiving are mostly from people I have built a close bond with during my career. And frankly, I think most creative people seek appreciation more than money. Hell, I have done plenty of complimentary work in my life just because someone appreciated my talent.
Upon discussing the problem with a few friends, I finally have realized what I must do. I must research freelance work rates in the market and draw up a table of standards for myself. Then if someone approaches me with work, just send them this rate chart. Like RFP-ing agencies. It’s just a matter of a little-bold application, that’s all.
Today, a friend of mine was hashing over a story idea with me for a novel he wishes to write in the near future. Without giving away much of anything, there’s a part where the protagonist, after facing a tragic defeat in love, begins to imagine various alternate scenarios where he might come off as the winner. While the protagonist is aware that these various attempts to change his fate are imagined, he is unable to distance himself from the illusions. I, in my turn, threw in Dumbledore’s dialogue from the King’s Cross scene in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”
Dead silence followed this ejaculation from the other end of the line. My friend has not read the HP books and, if he has seen the movies, it was probably without much reflection. I try not to hold this against him.
I went on to explain to him, “Perception is reality. How you perceive things adds to your experiences, which is what shapes you. If your character should imagine various alternate scenarios in search for romantic success and continue to fail, can it not add to his growth even if the incidents didn’t really happen?”
He seemed to like the concept very much and we discussed it further. I mentioned to him the Wickham-Darcy controversy in Pride and Prejudice [another classic he has not read but I don’t complain] and described the scene where Elizabeth reads Darcy’s letter, discovers Wickham’s true nature, and realizes what a gross error in judgment she has made. And her epiphany is not in the clarity she receives in finally learning what a villain Wickham is but in learning her own failing. That she had let a bruised ego direct her away from properly assessing Wickham’s abuse of Darcy. That her pride in the ability to discern the characters of others was not as deserved as she had assumed.
“But the crux of this conflict is,” I explained to my friend with the level of excitement I always feel when discussing Austen’s works, “if Elizabeth had not initially got her evaluation of Darcy so wrong, would she have learned to appreciate his goodness as strongly as she did later? Maybe if she perceived reality correctly the first time – if she had always known the truth – he would be just another rude guy but who has his heart in the right place? Maybe reality alone was not enough to make her fall in love with him? She needed to experience the lie to become fit to love him. Maybe sometimes a character needs to experience the lie in order to appreciate the truth. The unreal in the now can contribute to creating a desired reality for a later period.”
Hah! Now I’m counseling others on writing. Go figure.
Via: Daily Prompt – Luck
“Do you understand what I’m saying? For some reason, the Almighty has granted me the kismet to work with all these great men and women,” proclaimed the subject of the autobiography I’m commissioned to pen at the end of epitomizing a long list of Bangladeshi industry leaders and their various contributions. My subject himself was no less than one of our country’s pioneers of tourism and hospitality who has his fair share of epaulets.
The scene was from last Thursday night at his house; the occasion was his nine-year anniversary of steering the property where I first caught my hotelier bug. Most of the party had dispersed and he was still entertaining the few who lingered. He loved holding court and as he was such an excellent storyteller, we loved hearing him recite the same tales over and over again. We were not all -ians, mind you. His remarkably eclectic experiences had a way of bringing people together from all walks of life, making any shindig he threw – no matter how small or large – a collection of the most interesting characters.
As I looked around at the intimate circle of reposing handful, whose faces were still lit by his unwavering energy, I wondered if they were picking up the same message I was. Few leaders reach greatness without sacrificing some part of their integrity so it was unlikely that so many of my idol’s idols were as perfect as he painted them. In the nine years that I have known him while working at the — hotel and holding our bond steadfast after moving on to other organizations, I have seen him be taken advantage of by many self-serving individuals. However, he refused to deduce their intentions as ill. If he could come to someone’s assistance, so be it.
Like most heroes, mine isn’t without imperfections. In fact, his is the best kind of imperfection. His culpability is to so easily forgive the faults of others, his obstinant loyalty. Truly, the lucky ones are the people who have had the privilege of working with him.
I have withheld my subject’s personal information because I do not wish to have him accosted by busybodies before the work is finished. However, as I’m sure some of our common close friends will easily deduce his identity, I request them to keep it under a tight lid.
To say she had an hourglass or pear-shaped figure would be euphemistic; voluptuous downright misleading. Hourglass was what Lexi’s body looked like when she was fifteen years old, while her bottom had expanded to resemble that of a pear’s before she even turned twenty. Now, at the age of twenty-four, all hopes of ever becoming voluptuous was lost and she was fated to lament over centuries gone by where fleshy women were the vogue. If she was one of Rubens’ Women, Michael would not have left her.
Michael cheated on you, you stupid cow! Thank your lucky star that you dodged that bullet.
Unfortunately, this detail was lost on her mother.
~ Zaireen Lupa, Still Falling for You, work-in-progress